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20 Must-Do Activities in Franklin, Tennessee

20 Must-Do Activities in Franklin, Tennessee

Franklin, Tennessee, is a town rich with history, charm, and unique experiences waiting to be explored. From haunted ghost tours and historic site visits to vibrant local theaters and exciting outdoor activities, Franklin offers an abundance of things to do. Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or someone looking to indulge in local culture and cuisine, this guide highlights 20 distinctive and memorable things to do in Franklin, Tennessee. Dive into this list to uncover the hidden gems that make Franklin an extraordinary destination.

Frothy Monkey exterior sign

1.  Taste the Town

Indulge in the culinary scene of Franklin, Tennessee! From charming cafes with outdoor seating to upscale steakhouses and innovative cocktail bars, this section highlights a variety of dining options to tantalize your taste buds. Whether you crave hearty Southern fare, a sophisticated atmosphere, or a casual spot, Franklin has something to satisfy every craving.

Kickstart your day with people-watching and a steaming cup of joe on the spacious porch at Frothy Monkey, or savor a hearty Southern breakfast of cheesy grits and eggs at the cozy Franklin Mercantile Deli. For a quick bite in between exploring, Merridee’s Breadbasket beckons with its tempting homemade pies and street-side seating. 

Craving a sophisticated Southern experience? Look no further than Red Pony Restaurant, renowned for its innovative twists on classic dishes, or Cork & Cow, a high-end steakhouse boasting seasonal menus and an extensive wine list. For a sophisticated evening, unwind at 1799 Kitchen and Cocktails within the Harpeth Hotel. Here, expert mixologists create innovative cocktails and the chef crafts a bold menu.

2.  Journey Through Historic Sites

The Battle of Franklin Trust offers a variety of guided tours across three historic sites: Carter House, Carnton, and Rippa Villa. At Carter House, visitors can join the Classic House Tour to explore the house and its history, particularly its role in the Battle of Franklin. The Extended Tour provides a more in-depth experience, including additional areas of the house and grounds. The Battlefield Tour covers the key points of the battlefield, providing detailed historical context. Carnton also offers the Classic House Tour and the Extended Tour, along with a Slavery and the Enslaved Tour that focuses on the lives of the enslaved individuals at the site. Additionally, the Reconstruction and Aftermath Tour explores the post-war era and its impacts. At Rippa Villa, similar tours are available, providing a comprehensive look at the house, its history, and its significance during the Civil War. 

Lotz House Museum offers guided tours that delve into the home’s significant role during the Battle of Franklin in the Civil War. These tours provide insights into the house’s history, featuring Civil War artifacts and period furnishings.

Franklin Theatre Interior Franklin, TN

3.  Visit The Franklin Theatre

The Franklin Theatre, located in the heart of downtown, is a historic venue that offers a variety of entertainment options, including movies, live music, theatrical performances, and special events. Originally opened in 1937 and beautifully restored, the theatre combines vintage charm with modern amenities, providing an intimate and vibrant setting for all types of performances.

4.  Sip and Savor a Whiskey-Tasting Tour

Leiper’s Fork Distillery, located in the charming village of Leiper’s Fork offers a unique and authentic whiskey experience. The distillery combines traditional craftsmanship with local ingredients to produce small-batch, high-quality spirits. Visitors can enjoy guided tours that showcase the distillation process, learn about the history of Tennessee whiskey, and partake in tastings of their handcrafted products. 

5.  Explore the Historic Natchez Trace Parkway

The Natchez Trace Parkway is a scenic road that stretches 444 miles from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi. It follows the historic Natchez Trace, an ancient path used by Native Americans, European settlers, and traders. In Franklin, the parkway offers beautiful landscapes, historical sites, and recreational opportunities such as hiking, biking, and picnicking. 

Highlights include the Double Arch Bridge at Birdsong Hollow and various historic markers that tell the story of early travel and trade in the region. Just beyond the Double Arch Bridge, Timberland Park is fantastic for hiking. Or bring your bike and cruise through rolling hills and stunning natural beauty.

6.  Indulge in Wine and Music at Arrington Vineyards

Arrington Vineyards, located in Arrington, Tennessee, offers a picturesque setting for wine lovers. Co-owned by country music artist Kix Brooks, the vineyard features wine tastings, scenic picnicking spots, and live music events. Guests can enjoy a variety of wines produced on-site, with options for tastings in their barn, on the covered patio, or the hillside. The vineyard also hosts seasonal events and private functions, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists.

Harlinsdale Farm Franklin, TN

7.  Spend a Day at The Park at Harlinsdale Farm

Visit The Park at Harlinsdale Farm, a horse farm turned public park located in Franklin, Tennessee. The park is a significant historical site listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was a battle site during the Army of Tennessee’s retreat from Nashville and is renowned as the birthplace of the Tennessee walking horse industry.

This picturesque park offers a variety of activities for visitors of all ages. Spend your day exploring the scenic grounds, where you can enjoy peaceful walks, have a picnic, or simply relax. The park is known for hosting events, including festivals, concerts, and other gatherings that bring the local community together. 

8.  Dive into Franklin’s Art Scene

Enjoy art, music, and refreshments as you experience the Downtown Franklin Art Crawl. Organized by the Arts Council of Williamson County, the art crawl is a monthly event showcasing local art galleries and studios. Held on the first Friday of every month, the event promotes the vibrant arts scene in downtown Franklin. The Franklin Art Crawl offers more than just a visual feast; it provides a unique opportunity to meet and interact with the artists behind the creations. Whether you’re an art connoisseur or just looking for a fun night out, the Franklin Art Crawl is a must-visit event that beautifully combines creativity, community, and culture.

Kimrbros Pickin Parlor

9.  Discover Legendary Live Music Venues

Franklin, Tennessee, boasts legendary music venues that offer intimate atmospheres, rich musical heritage, and live performances. These venues are not just places to listen to music but are cultural hubs that blend Southern hospitality with vibrant musical experiences. 

Kimbro’s Pickin’ Parlor, located in Franklin, Tennessee, is a legendary music venue known for its intimate atmosphere and live performances. This historic establishment offers a unique blend of great food and a diverse lineup of local and touring musicians. Patrons can enjoy a cozy, eclectic setting reminiscent of an old-time juke joint, with frequent open mic nights and jam sessions. 

The Mockingbird Theater, situated in The Factory at Franklin, is a state-of-the-art venue featuring regular live music performances in an intimate setting, perfect for enjoying both local and national acts. With its excellent acoustics and cozy atmosphere, it offers an exceptional concert experience for music lovers.

Fox & Locke, located in Leiper’s Fork, is a vibrant venue known for its rich musical heritage and live performances. Established in 1947 as a general store, it has evolved into a cultural landmark while preserving its historic charm. The venue offers a lively atmosphere with a mix of local and touring musicians, regular live music events, and famous open mic nights, making it a beloved spot for enjoying delicious food, and great music.

Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant is more than just a place to savor comfort food; it is a popular gathering place where music and Southern hospitality come together. The stage at Puckett’s has seen performances from a wide range of talent, from emerging local artists to established musicians. Regular live music events, including songwriter nights and weekend performances, provide a platform for artists to showcase their talent and for visitors to enjoy an array of musical genres.

10.  Experience Local Theater with The Pull-Tight Players

Attend a performance at Pull-Tight Players Theatre and experience the charm and talent of local theatrical productions in Franklin, Tennessee. This community theater, founded in 1968, has been a cornerstone of Franklin’s cultural scene for over five decades. The theater is renowned for its high-quality performances, showcasing the exceptional talent of local actors, directors, and crew members. Each season brings a new lineup of shows, from classic plays to contemporary works, ensuring that there is always something fresh and exciting to see. 

Gay Line Hop Tour Franklin, TN

11.  Tour Franklin by Day and Night

The Franklin Hop-On Hop-Off Tour by Gray Line Tennessee offers a flexible way to explore Franklin’s historic sites, unique shops, and local eateries at your own pace. This scenic tour showcases the town’s picturesque landscapes and architecture, allowing passengers to appreciate Franklin’s tree-lined streets, historic buildings, and quaint neighborhoods.

After dark, explore Franklin’s haunted history with a guided ghost tour by Franklin Walking Tours. This captivating experience delves into Civil War-era hauntings, scandalous socialites, and historical murders, offering an unforgettable journey through Franklin’s eerie past. Knowledgeable guides bring these ghostly tales to life, making it a thrilling experience for history buffs and thrill-seekers alike.

12.  Pose for a 60-Second Portrait

Jeremy Cowart’s 60-Second Portrait Experience in Franklin, Tennessee, offers a unique and rapid photoshoot where the lighting, backgrounds, and edits evolve continuously during the session. In just one minute, participants receive a gallery of diverse and artistic portraits to choose from. This innovative approach, available for individuals or small groups, highlights Cowart’s creative expertise and provides a memorable photography experience.

The Factory at Franklin Outdoors

13.  Experience The Factory at Franklin

The Factory at Franklin, originally the Dortch Stove manufacturing plant, is now home to a variety of shops, restaurants, offices, and event spaces. The Factory is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and retains much of its original industrial charm, with its exposed brick walls, towering chimneys, and vintage architectural details.

At this historic site, visitors can celebrate Tennessee’s rich heritage at Made in TN, a gift shop brimming with locally designed and crafted treasures. Pick up a beautiful bouquet from Amelia’s Flowers, or lose yourself in a world of affordable art at Stonebridge Art Gallery. When hunger strikes, satisfy your sweet tooth at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, or tantalize your taste buds with a steaming bowl of ramen at Otaku Ramen. For a casual bite, grab a one-of-a-kind hot dog creation at Daddy’s Dogs. To top it all off, The Factory boasts the Skylight Bar, a lively gathering spot ideal for people-watching and soaking up the atmosphere. 

In addition to shopping and dining, The Factory at Franklin is a premier destination for cultural events and entertainment. The venue regularly hosts concerts, farmers’ markets, and art shows. They also offer tours, covering its 94-year history from an industrial facility to a beloved landmark. 

Explore the full range of shops, restaurants, and entertainment at The Factory at Franklin.

14.  Shop Downtown Franklin’s Boutiques and Galleries

Shopping in downtown Franklin, Tennessee, offers a charming experience with a variety of shops. Explore fashionable clothing boutiques like Emmaline, where you’ll find a curated selection of contemporary pieces alongside local designer finds. Uncover unique treasures at the Franklin Antique Mall, or perhaps a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry at Walton’s, brimming with antique, estate, and contemporary collections.

For those seeking to elevate their home environment, look no further than Onyx + Alabaster, an interior design showroom offering design services and exquisite home decor pieces, while also featuring a delightful in-store coffee lounge for a refreshing break between shops. The Registry boasts luxury home goods, perfect for adding a touch of elegance to your space. Step back in time at White’s Mercantile, where Holly Williams, the granddaughter of country music legend Hank Williams Sr., brings her artistic touch to this modern-day general store. 

Click here for a complete guide to shopping and services in downtown Franklin, Tennessee.

Things to do in downtown Franklin, TN, the Franklin Farmers Market offers shopping for fresh produce, crafts, baked goods, dairy items, meats and so much more!

15.  Support Local Farmers and Artisans at The Franklin Farmer’s Market

 The Franklin Farmers Market is a year-round, producer-only market that features fresh, locally grown produce, artisan foods, and handcrafted items. Open every Saturday, it showcases a variety of vendors offering seasonal fruits and vegetables, meats, dairy, baked goods, and unique crafts. Located at The Factory at Franklin, the market promotes community engagement, supports local farmers, and hosts special events and activities for all ages.

16.  Paddle, Fish, and Picnic at Westhaven Lake

Westhaven Lake in Franklin, Tennessee, offers a range of outdoor activities perfect for nature lovers and families. Visitors can enjoy fishing, paddleboarding, and kayaking on the serene lake waters. The surrounding park features walking trails for scenic strolls or runs and ample picnic spots for relaxation. 

Don’t miss Paddle Dogs, a family-friendly hot dog stand, paddle board rental, and live music venue located right on the lake!

Landmark Booksellers Downtown

17.  Unearth Rare Books at Landmark Booksellers

Landmark Booksellers is an independent bookstore in Franklin, Tennessee, offering a unique literary experience in a historic building dating back to the early 19th century. Specializing in rare and collectible books, Landmark Booksellers also provides a curated selection of new titles, bestsellers, and regional literature. The store’s charming, cozy atmosphere, characterized by its historic architecture and inviting decor, makes it a beloved destination for book lovers and history enthusiasts alike.

18.  Float the Harpeth River

Float Franklin offers a float trip down the picturesque Harpeth River, starting at Pinkerton Park and ending at Harlinsdale Farm. This approximately 2-hour float includes tube rentals equipped with mesh bottoms, backrests, and cup holders. Cooler tubes are also available to keep your beverages chilled. After enjoying the river, hop on the Float Bus for a scenic drive through downtown Franklin, returning you to your starting point. It’s a great way to unwind and soak in the natural beauty of Franklin.

Pedego Electric Bike Tour Franklin.

19.  Rent an Electric Bike

Cruise through Franklin and discover its hidden gems on an electric bike. Located in the heart of downtown, Pedego Franklin offers electric bike rentals and guided tours, making it a fun way to explore the town. Whether you’re browsing antique shops and art galleries, indulging in trendy boutiques and acclaimed restaurants, or just enjoying the view, a Pedego electric bike lets you go farther and see more.

20.  Unwind at a Country Resort

Experience luxury and tranquility at Southall Farm & Inn, a premier spa resort nestled in the rolling hills of Franklin, Tennessee. This 325-acre retreat combines a working farm, an inviting inn, and exceptional dining and spa experiences that honor nature’s cycles. The spa at Southall offers a variety of treatments rooted in the healing power of the earth, using botanicals and natural ingredients from the farm. Guests can enjoy ancient healing therapies, modern treatments, and wellness experiences designed to nourish both body and soul.

Discover the Magic of Franklin, Tennessee

With its blend of rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes, Franklin, Tennessee, offers something for everyone. Whether you’re exploring historic sites, savoring local cuisine, enjoying live music, or indulging in outdoor activities, this charming town promises unforgettable experiences. Embrace the magic of Franklin and create lasting memories in this extraordinary destination!